As a UK lawyer, I was fascinated to see the similarities and the differences between the UK and Australian legal markets, after arriving in Sydney. Of course, there are lots of similarities: law firms with similar goals and ambitions; hungry young lawyers looking to make their way in the world and many a drink being consumed at various events and functions!
But perhaps the most positive difference that I have noted to date is the candidates’ views on ‘salary expectations’ when looking for a new role. In the UK, the overall impression (and of course this is in very general terms) is that the lawyer thinks ‘money first, opportunity second’. It has been quite evident that in Sydney, and Australia more generally, that the opposite is true. Almost every candidate I have spoken with has, of course, wanted to secure a favourable financial package. However, the absolute emphasis has been on the opportunity. And what a refreshing change that is.
Candidates have repeatedly prioritised the opportunity on offer, the culture, the calibre of work, the Partner involved, the work/life balance, the social elements and/or the collegiate nature of the team or firm that they are seeking to join. In fact, these aspects are often prioritised joining over money.
So why is this useful for law firms to know?
I have met with a number of outstanding law firms - from top-tier, international law firms through to small and boutique practices - and each has a great deal to offer. The key I feel is to promote what marks your firm out from the crowd, what makes you special. My advice to any firm looking to attract the very best candidates is simple: don’t to be afraid about talking up all those additional aspects of the business that make you who you are. They are truly important.
So whether you offer Friday night drinks, celebrate the firm’s birthday each year, organise weekly group PT sessions for the team or have won awards for health & wellbeing initiatives, don’t be afraid to proudly highlight them to the prospective employees! This, rather than just offering greater financial reward, may enable you to secure the very best candidates.
Matt Dodson previously practised as a Criminal & Regulatory Barrister in the UK before moving to Australia and joining Legal Personnel in 2016. If you would like a confidential discussion about your recruitment needs or are currently looking for a new opportunity, please call (02) 9252 0345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.